The frequency and severity of natural disasters have increased in recent years. In 2014, the Northwest Territories experienced the worst wildfire season in its history and spent more than eight times its normal budget in firefighting costs.
Today, the Government of Canada announced that it provided $5.3 million to the Northwest Territories through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) Program to support response and recovery costs. This payment was the final installment of $20.3 million of assistance. An interim payment of $15 million was issued in February 2020.
Following natural disasters, when response and recovery costs exceed what individual provinces or territories can reasonably be expected to bear on their own, they can request assistance through the DFAA.
“Wildfires in Canada have devastating effects for thousands of Canadians each year. We are committed to working with provinces and territories when they reach out to the federal government for help to bear these costs. In our recent budget, our government announced an additional $1.9 billion over five years for the DFAA. The Government of Canada is, and will continue to be, a strong and active partner to assist people and communities affected by wildfires across Canada.”
– The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
In 2014, the Northwest Territories saw 3.5 million hectares burned, 11 communities threatened, two community evacuations, three evacuations of remote cottage areas, two extended territorial park closures, numerous highway closures, and threats to hydroelectric generation facilities and critical communications infrastructure.
In the event of large-scale natural disasters, the Government of Canada provides financial assistance to provincial and territorial governments, at their request, through the DFAA, administered by Public Safety Canada.
The DFAA sets out what costs are eligible for cost-sharing, such as rescue operations, restoring public works and infrastructure to their pre-disaster condition, as well as replacing or repairing basic, essential personal property of individuals, small businesses and farmsteads.
Provincial or territorial governments design, develop and deliver disaster financial assistance, deciding the amounts and types of assistance that will be provided to those that have experienced losses.